By Reg Jones
Q. My husband is a federal retiree, age 78. He chose not to enroll in Medicare Part B at 65 because he felt the extra expense would be unnecessary, since Kaiser Permanente seemed to cover everything he might need. We are now considering moving to a retirement community and find that the Medicare coverage would be advantageous in that environment. How much of a penalty will he pay if he enrolls in Medicare now?
Q. If I choose not to take Medicare B, and remain with just my Federal Employees Health Benefits plan, what does the FEHB plan pay? Does it pay as it did when I was working (with annual deductibles, co-pays, etc.) or does the FEHB plan reduce all payments to only the amounts that Medicare pays? I cannot afford to continue paying both Medicare B and FEHB premiums, but have to recognize that fewer doctors will accept Medicare patients. If I get out of Medicare B and use just my FEHB plan, will that FEHB plan automatically reduce payments to Medicare B levels?
Q. I am retiring this year from federal service and I have federal Blue Cross/Blue Shield. I will turn 65 next year. Do I have to enroll in Medicare Part B?
Q. I am a retired federal employee under CSRS. I am also retired from the Air Force and I am eligible for Tricare. I am enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits plan. Do I need to also enroll in Medicare Part B?
Q. I went on Medicare Part A two years ago, keeping federal Blue Cross Anthem for my Part B. My husband (the policy holder) is two years younger and is going on Medicare soon. How do we handle Part B? Do we go on Medicare Part B with Blue Cross picking up what’s leftover, or can we keep (and pay for) Blue Cross for Part B? If we both have to go on Medicare Part B, can I join without penalty, and who do I call to do that?
Q. Overview: I began in the Air Force Non-Appropriated Fund in 1996, enrolled in NAF retirement plan in 2000, ported to GS in 2005 with deferral of my NAF retirement (calculated at 5.27 yrs) and entered FERS. My current GS position will be abolished in 2014 (at nine years FERS). I have the potential of porting into a NAF position. I wish I had just retained NAF retirement, but lack of research and misguided human resources recommendations led me to where I am with a split retirement outlook.
Given my FERS time will total only nine years at abolishment, if I move to NAF:
* Will I have the option of re-entering the NAF retirement system, or am I required to remain in FERS?
* If I can switch back to NAF retirement, will I have to wait until 62 to draw any FERS retirement since I only achieved nine years, versus reaching MRA+10?
* Will I be able to retain Thrift Savings Plan in nonactive status (until draws begin at 59½) and begin contributing into the NAF 401(k), or will I have to roll TSP into 401(k)?
* Are there any conflicts with drawing two annuities at retirement (both APF and NAF)?
* Does AF NAF retirement pay the full amount of the retirement calculation (less 4 percent for each year before age 62) until I reach age 62? And is the only reduction at 62 the annuity reduction calculated at 2.5 percent of Social Security (x) # of NAF years?
* At age 65, do the health benefits automatically roll to supplementary when Medicare starts?
* What is the current cost for full family coverage and also the current cost for just the supplementary insurance?
* If, at 65, full coverage reduces to supplementary and my spouse is not yet 65 years old, can I elect to continue full coverage?
* If the NAF position is abolished via business-based action (after 2016) is there the possibility of being offered a Voluntary Early Retirement Authority/Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay retirement based on my service computation date providing 20 years of combined continuous service without a break since 1996?
Q. I just turned 65 and retired from the federal government two years ago, with Federal Employees Health Benefits standard option Blue Cross/Blue Shield health insurance. I am teaching at a local university and have declined their health insurance policy because of my FEHB plan. Were I to enroll in Medicare Part B today, my pension plus university salary would require that I pay the highest premium rates for Medicare Part B. If I defer enrollment, I understand the 10 percent-per-deferred-year penalty I would pay. To avoid that, it might be worthwhile to enroll in Part B today. But if I enroll today and quit my job later, will my Part B premiums be adjusted downward to reflect my lower income. Or, are future premiums never adjusted downward despite the drop in my income?
Q. I’m going to retire next year at age 66. I already have Medicare Part A. Do I need to buy Medicare Part B when I retire, or will my FEBblue Standard Option be enough? I was told by Social Security that I need both. Is that true?
Q. My husband retired from the federal government in 2012 under CSRS. We have been told by a retirement counselor that since he only has 14 quarters in Social Security, he is not eligible for Medicare Part B, though he is eligible for Medicare Part A. Is that true? If so, can he work to gain the additional quarters needed even if it is after he turns age 65, and then apply for Medicare Part B? I cannot find documentation anywhere to support the retirement counselor’s claim.
Q. I am a CSRS Offset, retired in 2008 with 30 years of service. I will turn 65 in September. I have several medical conditions that require long-term care. I was told by the Office of Personnel Management that I would have to give up my federal medical coverage and take Medicare. If that is the case, I would prefer to keep my federal medical coverage. What are my options? Can I refuse Medicare? And what are the repercussions of that decision?
Q. Recently, I have heard that if a person buys life insurance, he cannot earn Medicare benefits. Is it true?
Q. I am 74 years old, retired under CSRS and receiving about $1,900 per month after taxes and Medicare payments. My wife is 76 years old, retired under Social Security and receives about $290 per month after Medicare. Am I correct in the following assumptions:
1. The spouse of a Social Security retiree can receive a benefit amount up to 50 percent of what the retiree receives and not affect the retiree’s benefits.
2. The spouse of a CSRS retiree does not receive such a benefit.
If I am correct, this example only helps to substantiate the idea the Congress cares not for employees who contributed so much for the federal government.
Q. I am a retired federal employee, 63 years old with Blue Cross/Blue Shield standard option health insurance. When I start receiving Medicare in two years, should I keep the standard option or switch to basic option Blue Cross? What are the pros and cons of each when combined with Medicare?
Q. My husband is a retired federal employee. I am covered under his Care First, Blue Cross/Blue Shield Federal Employee Plan insurance. I will turn 65 in a few months and he is 66. Will we be able to get Medicare without his premiums increasing?
Q. I am 55 with 36 years of federal employment, including two one-year breaks in service. The last break was in 1985. I withdrew the funds I had paid into CSRS each time I broke service and have repaid a minimal amount of it. I thought I would be one of those people who worked forever; however, I have a progressively degenerative medical condition and likely will not be able to work more than another year at the most. I am totally ignorant about retirement and to what benefits I am entitled. For example, will my pension benefits be reduced because I am retiring early? Do I continue to pay the same health insurance rates once I retire until I become eligible for Medicare? Will my health benefits remain the same until I become eligible for Medicare? I used the pension calculator and am more confused. For example, I calculated using the percentage for the first five years and the different percentage for the next five years, and then the 2 percent for the remaining years past 10. Is this the amount plus interest, plus matching funds what I pay into CSRS from my paycheck, or do I have to do yet other calculations? I have requested a meeting with my HR department, but it has to wait until it receives information for payroll and tells me it will be weeks before I can get a meeting. My neurosurgeon and neurologist are telling me I should consider retiring immediately, but I need to make this major decision as knowledgeably as possible.
Q. I am a retired federal employee (64 years old) and still on federal health insurance. My wife is turning 65 this month. Does she have to sign up for Medicare Part B to avoid a future penalty, or can she wait until I am 65?
Q. I am a CSRS retiree. I retired in 2005. I am a subscriber to the Federal Employee Health Benefits program, specifically Blue Cross-Blue Shield’s Standard Option with family coverage. My wife and I are also qualified for Medicare Parts A and B. That makes Medicare the primary coverage and FEHB/BC-BS the secondary coverage for any health benefits paid.
1. What (if any) changes in the plan’s coverages are anticipated for 2014 and beyond, due to the health care law? 2. Does OPM anticipate that current retirees/program members will be forced into a health care provider’s coverage offered under the law? Starting in 2014, will federal retirees be forced into that law’s coverage rather than having the option to choose our own coverages under current program?
Q. I now have 2½ years of government service and am 66. When I retire in 2½ years, I’ll have five years with the government. Will I get the option to retain my Federal Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Alabama health insurance? If I would rather quit working for the government in one year, do I lose the opportunity to keep my federal BC/BS of Alabama coverage? I have total time in government employment today of only three years. I am contemplating quitting next year. What is the impact to my federal BC/BS insurance coverage? I signed up for Medicare Part A, but not Part B. I hope I can keep health insurance with BC/BS of Alabama and make that my secondary plan once I leave government employment.
Q. My wife and I are civil service retirees. We both are employed with health insurance. We still have FEHB.
I am planning to retire shortly. I will be able to transfer to my wife’s plan with her employer. After she retires, we will have about three or four years of coverage under that plan. After that, do we have to decide on whether to get Medicare Part B? Is my analysis correct?
Q. I will be turning 65 next month. I have Federal Employees Health Benefits coverage. I just enrolled for Medicare Part B. I am a retired reservist. I intend to enroll in Tricare for Life. DEERS requires that I disenroll from FEHB to enroll in Tricare for Life when I start Part B coverage My HR person has no idea whether I can drop my FEHB. Where can I get definitive information on this issue (disenrolling from FEHB at 65) to show HR?